Always be prepared, the motto for the Boy Scouts of America, is more than a slogan to Blake Phelps, Gardner. It’s a way of life, for which he recently received one of the BoyScout’s highest honors for bravery, a Certificate of Merit.
He also earned an award from Fox 4 News in Kansas City for his actions.
“We’re always ready for anything possible, and we’re always out to help anybody that needs it,” Blake said of the organization that he credits with helping him help others.
Never was the need for preparation more apparent to Blake than in the final days of his fifth grade year at Wheatridge Middle School.At the time, 11-year-old Blake, now 13, stopped a moving bus, calmed all of its passengers and got medical attention for someone in need – his mother, Gloria Phelps.
Gloria, a bus driver, had a vehicle full of kids and had just received the signal to pull out of Wheatridge Middle School at the end of a school day.
“We were pulling out, and I stood up. I can’t even tell you why,” Gloria explained. “I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Her first thought was she needed to get to Blake, who was a passenger on her bus.
“I hit the floor and passed out with a bus load full of kids,” she said.
Blake’s CPR and first aid training through the Boy Scout organization and the Red Cross were fresh in his head.
“I was just thinking to try and get her medical help and get the kids off,” Blake said. “I was thinking that I just wanted to help and get everything under control.”
The other kids, he explained, were “just started freaking out. They were yelling, screaming. Trying to get out of the windows. It was really hectic.”
Blake swung into action.
He admits he yelled at the other kids on the bus.
“I told them to shut up and sit down, and they did it. They were really cooperative,” Blake explained.
Although Gloria doesn’t recall exactly what happened after she blacked out, she has watched the bus security tapes.
“Blake jumped out of his seat to get to me, stepped over me, put the emergency brake on and got the bus stopped,” Gloria said.
In the meantime, he put Gloria’s feet up, turned her head to the side and checked her pulse. He’d finished his first aid training just weeks before, and it came back to him easily.
“I raised her feet to get blood away from her legs to her vital organs,” Blake said. “I checked her pulse to see if her heart was still beating. I saw that she was breathing, and I tilted her head to the side just in case she started vomiting.”
Once Gloria was secure, Blake radioed the bus company to let them know they had a medical emergency. He called 9-1-1 to get medical attention, and then evacuated the students from the bus.
Earlier this year, a Boy Scout certificate for his bravery showed up in the mail.
“We never knew it was coming,” Blake said.
But Gloria isn’t surprised that he’s received such a high honor. Two years after the event, he’s still doing amazing things, she said.
A reading group he started for kids with learning disabilities is just one example.
Blake and his best friend like to hang out and play video games, but his best friend’s younger sister was always bugging them – wanting their attention.
“Blake would start reading to her,” Gloria explained.
The eight-year-old has a lot of friends with learning disabilities, and it grew from there.
He started reading on a regular basis to his friend’s younger sister and her friends – sometimes as many as 10 or 11 kids.
That’s the sort of thing Boy Scouts do, Blake explained.
“We do all kinds of service project,” he said. “We just went out to place flags on veterans graves. We do park clean ups. We do fish fries. All kinds of stuff like that that will help the community for absolutely free.”
Troop 88, Blake’s Boy Scout troop, is 57 years old.
“Blake was the first Boy Scout in Troop 88’s history to ever receive (the certificate of merit). They’re really hard to come by,” she said.
These days, Blake is setting his sights on becoming an Eagle Scout.
“I’m only two ranks away,” he said. “I’m really working hard towards getting it.”
Gloria has no doubt he’ll get there. After all, he rescued her and a bus load of kids when he was only 11.
“Bless his heart for doing it,” Gloria said.